Grandson admits to murdering grandpa, setting his house on fire

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News)- Police say they believe the man found dead inside his burning home Friday was murdered.

Salt Lake City Dispatch said they received a 911 call about a house on fire at 717 E Logan Avenue was on fire. Salt Lake City Fire Department arrived to find the front of the house fully engulfed in flames.

Det. Greg Wilkins with the Salt Lake City Police Dept. said the victim, 74-year-old John Peel, had apparently been stabbed to death.

Wilkins said they believe his grandson, 28-year-old Maxwell Wolcott stabbed his grandpa and then lit the house on fire.

According to a probable course statement, during the course of extinguishing the flames, firefighters found the dead body of the elderly man. When the victim was rolled over, a knife stab wound was reportedly found on his upper chest. 

After reviewing surveillance video from the home showing Wolcott leaving the residence, detectives say they interviewed him.

Wolcott admitted to detectives that he intentionally drove to the residence of the victim with the intention of killing him, according to the court documents.

Wolcott also told police that he used a knife he brought with him and stabbed the victim in the chest after he forced the front door open, court documents stated.

Court documents state that the victim also admitted that he left the residence and returned to the victim’s home where he doused the victim with lighter fluid with the intention of destroying evidence.

Wolcott was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for murder, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, abuse or desecration of a dead human body, and obstruction of justice.

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